I was born in 1950 in the UK.  In an affluent educated country, just settling down after a catastrophic war.  Rationing was still in place for some things, but babies don’t see far past a warm tit.  I now have nearly 70 years to look back over and compare to what social conditions were like both before I was born and I have plenty of information to guess what social condition are likely to be in the future.

My conclusion is that I have had a most fortunate life, in a most fortunate time in history.  I was raised in a time of the burgeoning wealth of the middle classes, increasing freedom for youth and a general feeling of optimism for the future.  The dark cloud was the cold war and the spectre of nuclear war.  And those clouds gradually dissolved to a shadow on the horizon.  I could travel the world with just a few dollars and a British passport which demanded countries to allow “The bearer to go without let or hindrance”  through their territories.  It’s pompous language a relic of the colonial gunboat era.  I travelled through Afghanistan without let of hindrance and marveled at it’s long confused history which I had no idea about until I went there.  British schools of the 50’s and 60’s didn’t feature much Afghan history, which is a pity because it is a lot more interesting than the Tudor kings of England.  I arrived in New Zealand and Australia at a time I could be a permanent resident just by setting foot on the country.  How good was that!  I could buy a block of land, 156 acres of precious tropical rainforest after landing in Australia with little more than a change of clothes and US$11 just 2 years before.

I now see many threats in the future, and the younger generations do not enjoy the optimism of my carefree youth.  Some are chronically anxious.  They see climate change and it’s disastrous effects actually happening, and those that have been through the fires are at risk of PTSD, and some young people are fearful to have children because of climate change.  This pervasive threat is a reality and psychological burden for young people.  Another threat is much in the news at the moment, recently named as covid-19.  Or the coronavirus.  It will not be contained and will soon join the other scourges of mankind such as flu and colds.  This is creeping into media coverage and public awareness.  It is highly contagious and perhaps 3 or 4 times more than flu.  It is not being contained.  It will be a pandemic which I expect to get even in Possum Valley.  The death rate is around 2% so far in China, but seems to be less in patients overseas who probably receive more intensive palliative and supportive treatment.  I have seen on the internet that in Wuhan, they have built a 1000 bed hospital in 10 days, having run out of stadiums and schools.  Only in China can they cut the paperwork and send in the bulldozers the same day.  An unfortunate lab experiment is being conducted on the cruise liner Diamond Princess anchored off Yokohama.  About 10 days ago 10 cases of covid-19 were detected.  People were already compartmentalised into little cabins, and soon restricted to the cabins in their cruise ship/prison.  I have no doubt that every feasible precaution has been taken, but now 218 are infected.  I think this test tube, and largest cluster of cases outside China, indicates how infectious this virus is.   They will have to rename that ship if they ever expect to use it again other than for transporting sheep to the middle east.

random kitchen photo

I have often heard that everybody is connected by 7 degrees of separation.   Yesterday I was chatting with guests just outside my veranda, and mentioned my concerns that covid-19 is an inevitable pandemic.  They admitted to being tour operators and just a couple of days before having clients from Wuhan.  I took a couple of steps back to some nervous laughter, but it seems that even in an isolated spot in a rainforest, I am only 2 degrees away from the epicenter.

Another threat to the younger generations is the ridiculous income gap between rich and poor.  In Australia, there should not be any poor.  Simple as that.  There is more than enough to go round for us all to be satisfied.  And the price of houses and letting is prohibitive.  The older generations (that is me) are ripping off the younger generations when the historical imperative is to help and provide for your offspring.  The worst offences are building government debts for future generation to pay off, charging kids for their education, and worst of all trashing the environment for short term gains.  Yes, short term is all we greedy baby boomers have left, so maybe when death relinquishes our grip on power and wealth, you can establish a rational world economy based on renewable energy.

Our present government is a thoroughly professional body of people who have looked into the future and are dedicated to ensuring that it never happens.  They are sponsored by miners and deep in the pockets of old money.   A few years in parliament to collect the fabulous pensions and then do the rounds on the boards of corporations to collect the rewards that would have been a little unseemly while they were actually in government.  I believe there are actually rules where they have to wait a few months before they can ‘board’ the gravy train.  What a fig leaf.

So I have lived in very good times and never press-ganged into a war.  I am not so optimistic for the future and have often looked at my grandkids playing and thinking perhaps this is as good as it gets as they splashed naked in a rainforest creek.  It could be that real living standards are already on the way down.  Water undrinkable, air unbreathable, temperature unbearable.


  1. P.S. I love the possum pics, how could I forget them!!!!????

  2. There’s much more good than bad in your “Reflections” blog, Paul. Your fortunate life, your world travel, good clean honest hard work to accumulate savings, buying a rainforest retreat in the ’70’s, children then grandchildren to love, happy memories – the good far outweighs the bad in my book! Most of us, of your vintage, had a very fortunate start, so good that I thought for many years that everyone in the World had the same as me! Sheltered from horror, it wasn’t until I read books about other parts of the Globe that I realised how sheltered Australia, and Wollongong my home town in particular, was. Reading satisfied my curiosity, so I didn’t want to travel as such, just in my mind. Six years into my marriage with David, he convinced me that we both give up our well-paid jobs, our family and friends, buy a caravan and an F100 Truck (with tinnie on top) and go see our own Country! He always was the thinker, the creative , the adventurous one, whereas I was happy in my comfy cosy safe nest – so off we went in 1976, the trip of a lifetime for me! Leaving cold old Melbourne we took five years to zigzag up and down Vic/SA/NSW/QLD/FNQ until we reached The Daintree (David’s childhood dream). After 3 months there with barramundi up to our knees, money getting tight (we lived off 18% interest in those days), we headed for Cairns to buy a business and make some $$$$’s. But that’s another whole story – what we did accomplish was deciding we never wanted to ever leave FNQ again. Currently, I worry, like you Paul, about the young and their anxiety. Climate-Change & Covid19 are both deeply worrying. But just like we did when the Cold War went on and on, (survival clicked in and we looked at the glass half full) so will it be for the young, their survival instincts will carry them through this, and any other dangers they may face, long after we are gone. So I see positives out of all of this, opportunities for people of all ages to reset their lives, help the young to see the way forward, learn from what is happening to our World, dig deep inside themselves and come up with answers to survive any and all catastrophies they may face. We have enough brains in this Country and the rest of the World, to solve our critical problems. I believe, truly, that we will.

  3. Martin Belson says:

    My subscription to your blog has lapsed.. I have been watching for an email to notify me, but alas , I had to come and look, there were two entries I hadn’t seen yet.
    I have been enjoying another Blog in the meantime by someone else I had the luck to make acquaintance

  4. Timbotoo says:

    Opinions are like a**holes; everyone has one and everyone else’s stinks. So here’s mine.
    The coronavirus has yet to prove to be the pandemic which will see us all off. The majority of victims seem to fit the profile of normal flu victims, i.e. old , frail with compromised defenses etc. etc. Maybe it will mutate to a more harmless strain.
    The fires were more to do with stupid greenie pressure to limit traditional forest husbandry. The climate always changes and we adapt or die.
    I too fear for the future of my children and grandchildren, but it for the encroaching socialism which will rob them of their liberties.

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